After months of counting sleeps, hectic planning and a group drawing ceremony at the DSA it was finally time for National Festival 2019!
The annual National Festival is the biggest event in the DSActive calendar. This year’s tournament promised to be the biggest yet with teams coming from all over the country to the Birmingham venue. National Festival is an amazing opportunity for players of any ability from around the country to come together, show off the skills they have been working on in training and meet friends old and new.
The DSA team arrived early to set up the venue, inflate balls and make sure everything was ready, from fixture lists to the (thankfully underused) red and yellow cards for the referees. As the teams began to arrive various players claimed that they were here to bring the trophy back with them, and some insisted they would never let go of it!
After the teams had had a bit of a warm up – varying from professional looking drills to a more relaxed approach of chatting whilst eating breakfast – it was time to begin and the excitement was palpable.
Play began on all four pitches. The player’s commitment was immediately evident with lung busting runs and commands being shouted. It was not long before we saw some swift attacking play and the celebrations soon started coming!
Players showed great levels of skill and teamwork and most also showed a level of sportsmanship the professionals could learn from, applauding winning opponents and making new friends after the heat of the battle.
The group stages were a marathon. Many of the teams didn’t have any subs, some only had one but the players performed admirably, finding extra reserves to power through all their games.
Eventually the groups were settled, with Charlton Addicks, Lincoln, North London United and All Stars 2 (a team made up of players from Bristol, Swindon and Cambridge) advancing as group winners and entering the semi finals.
The semi finals were close run, with momentum moving from one team to another rapidily and leaving the crowd breathless. Eventually the Charlton Addicks saw off Lincoln, and All Stars 2 edged past North London United in an 11 goal fest.
The final, the moment everyone had been waiting for, pitted eight-times champions Charlton against All Stars2, who were playing their first games together after the team’s formation earlier in the day!
Both teams started brightly, with Charlton showing the skill and team work that makes them such formidable opponents but All Stars 2 showed the spirit and determination that had got them to the final. However, despite the resistanc, Charlton proved too strong and ended the match 8-1 winners and the celebrations begun.
The day ended with the medal ceremony and trophy presentation. Nearly every team stayed to collect their medals and applaud the winners. Cheers were given for every team and the for the winners of the Player’s Player, Golden Boot and Golden Glove awards. As the runners up trophy and winners trophy were given out it was hard to guess from the brilliant reactions which team had lost!
Overall, 19 teams and 132 players came to Play Football in Birmingham for our biggest festival yet, with 45 matches played and over 240 goals scored!
Thanks to all the fantastic coaches, parents and volunteers that ensured the day went so smoothly, and for all your hard work throughout the year leading the teams and making them such assets to their clubs.
DSActive and the Down’s Syndrome Association would also like to say a huge thank you to National Lottery Fund, as without their funding the event would not have been possible.